A&A: How can I gain access to my UC police records?

Asked & AnsweredQ: I am seeking to obtain my records from the University of CA.

(1) I received the following response to my request for supplemental records to two police reports. An attorney who specializes in FOIA requests advised that the following language may not constitute a legitimate denial to my records requests. He advised me to seek out someone who specializes in the CPRA and the IPA.

The denial from the UC records management office reads as follows: As for any investigative records, supplementals or other records regarding the two police reports, it has been determined that there are no other documents that can be provided. Non-disclosure is allowed for certain circumstances, such as when being compiled for the purpose of a criminal investigation, or when contained in any record which could identify an individual and which is compiled at any stage of the process of enforcement of criminal laws.

(2) From the UC records office, I also requested the supplemental record to another police report from 2010. Although the UC police stated over the phone that a supplemental record existed and that a detective had been assigned to the case by name, the UC records office’s response to my request for these records is that none exist.

Any help vis-a-vis these records requests would be very much appreciated!

A: Unfortunately in California, there is little that police have to give to the public under the Public Records Act in terms of investigatory records, which it sounds like your request might have asked for.

Under Gov Code § 6254(f), complaints to law enforcement agencies and investigative files are generally exempt from disclosure, subject to the required disclosures of (1) arrest and (2) dispatch information. That information should be available even if the investigation is ongoing, unless there is some reason that the investigation would be compromised should the information be released.

The information that is required to be released includes:

(1) The full name and occupation of every individual arrested by the agency, the individual’s physical description including date of birth, color of eyes and hair, sex, height and weight, the time and date of arrest, the time and date of booking, the location of the arrest, the factual circumstances surrounding the arrest, the amount of bail set, the time and manner of release or the location where the individual is currently being held, and all charges the individual is being held upon, including any outstanding warrants from other jurisdictions and parole or probation holds.

(2) Subject to the restrictions imposed by Section 841.5 of the Penal Code, the time, substance, and location of all complaints or requests for assistance received by the agency and the time and nature of the response thereto, including, to the extent the information regarding crimes alleged or committed or any other incident investigated is recorded, the time, date, and location of occurrence, the time and date of the report, the name and age of the victim, the factual circumstances surrounding the crime or incident, and a general description of any injuries, property, or weapons involved.

Gov Code § 6254(f)(1)-(2).

The language that the university uses in denying your request does not outright state the reason for the denial of your request, i.e., says that the two supplementals are investigatory records covered by the exemption, although it certainly implies that this is the case.  Just to make sure that the agency is not denying you access to records that otherwise should be disclosed (i.e., are not investigatory records covered by the exemption), you might consider writing to the university and asking it clarify its position. The same would seem to apply to your second request for the 2010 supplemental record. The agency should not deny that the record exists even if it believes that it is exempt from disclosure. Rather, per the Public Records Act, it should cite any applicable exemption, and explain how the exemption applies to the specific situation.

Bryan Cave LLP is general counsel for the First Amendment Coalition and responds to First Amendment Coalition hotline inquiries. In responding to these inquiries, we can give general information regarding open government and speech issues but cannot provide specific legal advice or representation.